Tis the Valentine Season, and I suppose that's why I was invited to a "Cuddle" Party the other day. Haven't heard of one? Neither had I. I didn't go because it's not my thing, but it's becoming more and more popular in urban landscapes in this ever increasingly isolated world.
The basic concept is that a group of people get together and participate in human contact (in a non-sexual way), and this not only elevates the mental health of the participants, but it has a physical health benefit as well -- thanks to the "love drug/hormone" or "cuddle chemical" known as oxytocin.
Previously, all my knowledge regarding oxytocin concerned mothers and their newborns (examples: regulates labor & breastfeeding), but it plays a role outside of a mother-infant relationship. Oxytocin is released through social interactions and has manifold benefits, some of which are sleep and pain. This Live Science: 11 Intersecting Effects of Oxytocin article ascribes that one of the benefits is sleep:
Oxytocin released in the brain under stress-free conditions naturally promotes sleep , according to a 2003 study in the journal Regulatory Peptides. Ellison said this link makes sense because oxytocin counters the effects of cortisol, which is the known as the stress hormone. "It has a calming effect," she said. "It leaves you feeling tranquil and loving, and certainly that helps our path to sleep."
In articles elsewhere, it mentions that Oxytocin also is anti-inflammatory and can help with pain management. Thus... I was wondering:
To what degree does oxytocin released from the brain vis-a-vis a "Cuddle" Party (or other social interactions):
-- alleviate pain?
-- induce sleep?
Just how much "cuddling" is needed in order to garner enough oxytocin for:
-- pain alleviation
-- sleep inducement